I'm getting closer to finishing up my WIP. I'm still in the polishing and shining stage, so I won't be querying for a while yet, but I've started researching agents. It's a fairly involved process, so I thought I'd take you through my procedure—which of course won't work for everyone—but it might give you some ideas of where to start.
There are a lot of fabulous agents out there. Many of them will be the perfect choice for you. How do you find them? In this post I talked a bit in general about AgentQuery, QueryTracker (QT) and Preditors and Editors. Today I'm going to focus a bit more specifically on QT and their searchable agent database today. Last time I checked, there were over 1000 agents listed. Obviously you need to narrow your search. QT allows you to narrow down the list by choosing the genre(s) of your story/stories. You can choose multiple categories to narrow down your search further.
I'll use my recent searches as an example. My story is a romance with a strong subplot of suspense/mystery. So, I chose fiction–romance, then fiction–mystery, fiction–suspense. I had 114 agents to search. When I searched romance only, I had 189 agents. Not a huge difference for me, but if you're planning on writing fantasy and thrillers for instance, it would be nice to know which agents rep both.
QT lists the agents in alphabetical order by last names. It shows if they accept email or snail mail queries or if there's an online form. Once you click on an agent's name, it gives you more information.
- The overview tab lists the agency's website and the agent's personal blog and twitter if applicable. It also links to their information on AgentQuery, Preditors & Editors, Publishers Marketplace, AAR and sometimes interviews as well. There are a few agencies without an online presence, but these are included in the listings as well.
- The comments tab shows comments by QT members who are willing to share who they queried and what the response was. It's easy to find out from this tab if the agent only responds if interested and what their form letters are like.
- One tab shows the clients of the agent. This is really handy. Even though the agent might rep a wide variety of genres, you'll see quickly what they have sold. Some of the agents in my search sold almost exclusively nonfiction books. I would assume that's where their best contacts in the publishing world are. By checking out the clients, I also find out if the agent already reps someone who sells stories similar to the one I'm querying. That all helps me decide where the agent fits on my wishlist.
- There is another tab for reports. This can show you how many queries the agent has received, in what genre, how they've responded ... Some of these features are exclusive to the premium membership.
Speaking of that premium membership, it's $25/year. The basic membership allows you to track your querying process for one project. Among other perks, the premium membership allows you to track 20 projects. When you're tracking project 2, it reminds you if you queried each agent with project 1 and how that turned out.
Now, as good as QT is, it's not enough. Once you've narrowed down the list of agents you're interested in querying, I'd suggest a few more steps.
Click through to the agency website and the agent's personal blog if she/he has one. You can find out a LOT of information this way. The lists of genres is sometimes a bit deceiving. As I said, I'm looking for agents who represent romance. By visiting the websites I eliminated at least a dozen agents who only want to see historical or paranormal romance and one who wants only multi-generational stories. Agents are busy people. I'd rather not waste their time querying for something they're not interested in. I'd rather focus on those agents who state they're looking for contemporary stories.
QT has a 'Notes' space where you can keep track of your thoughts about the agent. I use it to track those tidbits I might use to personalize my query when I do get to that stage.
There are a LOT more features on QT that I didn't mention. I'll do that in another post.
Any questions? Anything you'd like to see in that post? Have you used QT? What's your favourite part of it? Any other tips?
Jemi Fraser is an aspiring author of romantic mysteries. She blogs and tweets while searching for those HEAs.